Sunday, November 07, 2010


Dana Milbank wonders how things would be different now if Hillary Clinton were president, but he's forgetting quite a few things about our recent past:

...Would unemployment have been lower under a President Hillary? Would the Democrats have lost fewer seats on Tuesday? It's impossible to know. But what can be said with confidence is that Clinton's toolkit is a better match for the current set of national woes than they were for 2008, when her support for the Iraq war dominated the campaign.

Back then, Clinton's populist appeal to low-income white voters, union members and workers of the Rust Belt was not enough to overcome Obama's energized youth vote. But Clinton's working-class whites were the very ones who switched to the Republicans on Tuesday.

Let's stop right there.

Yes, we know that Hillary Clinton became the Queen of the Working Class for a few months in 2008. But how did that happen? It happened in large part because she began seeking out white voters driven by racial animus only when the delegate math showed clearly (to everyone but her) that she'd been beaten. Her efforts were reinforced by propaganda from Republicans and GOP operatives who wanted to divide the Democratic Party and possibly produce a divided convention -- all of a sudden they were full of praise for her.

Now, can we discuss what they would have been saying about her if she'd genuinely had a chance to win the nomination as the primaries moved into Appalachian states, or if she'd already handily defeated Obama, or if he'd never run? She wouldn't be the working-class queen. She'd be the Alinsky-addled anti-war radical of vintage-1992 propaganda. She'd be the evil baby boomer who as senator sought funds for a Woodstock museum -- the subject of a series of John McCain attacks during the early days of the 2008 campaign. (Yes, please recall that even before he won the nomination, McCain was running against Clinton -- and doing so by caricaturing her as a dirty '60s commie.) If she'd remained in contention and won the nomination, we'd have heard that kind of talk all through 2008 -- and every day since, if she'd won the general election. (How she'd have won the primaries and general election under those circumstances is a mystery to me.)


... The Clinton campaign advisers acknowledge that she probably would have done the auto bailout and other things that got Obama labeled as a socialist. The difference is that she would have coupled that help for big business with more popular benefits for ordinary Americans.

Clinton, for example, first called for a 90-day foreclosure moratorium in December 2007, as part of a package to fight the early stages of the mortgage crisis with a five-year freeze on subprime rates and $30 billion to avoid foreclosures....

And the response to all of this by Rick Santelli (and, subsequently, by Dick Armey and Fox News and their minions) would have been what exactly?

Some differences would have been stylistic. As a senator from New York, Clinton had good relations with Wall Street. As the heir to her husband's donor base, she would have had more executives in government -- envoys who would have been able to ease the uncertainty about tax and regulatory policy that has been crippling business.

I'm struggling to figure out how "good relations with Wall Street" and reconcile with "90-day foreclosure moratorium" and "five-year freeze on subprime rates and $30 billion to avoid foreclosures." I'm guessing either the mortgage relief measures would have been her first broken promise, at her Wall Street pals' insistence, or the Republicans would have made these measures the subject of her tea party "socialist"/"fascist" demonization.

And I'm really struggling to figure out how "more executives in government" reconciles with "more popular benefits for ordinary Americans." If we've learned nothing from the past few years, haven't we at least learned that, when the economic pie shrinks, fat cats demand as much pie as they get in good years, plus the usual large percentage increase in pie allotment, even if it means non-fat-cats get no pie at all, and have to bake extra pie to make sure fat cats get their due?

Zandar adds:

Unless Hillary could have gotten a significantly larger stimulus, the answer is she'd be in the same boat. The GOP would have blocked her every move, Evan Bayh and Ben Nelson and Joe Lieberman would have jerked her around, and instead of birthers we'd have Clinton truthers refighting every stupid thing from 1997. Instead of pushing Obama's race to separate white working-class men in the Rust Belt from the Democrats, the GOP would have pushed gender fears instead. Rush wouldn't be making racist jokes, just misogynist ones.

Sarah Palin would still be throwing around her Mama Grizzly scat everywhere, the distractions of Michelle Obama, woman with Big Arms and Food Police, would be replaced with Hey What's First Dude Bill Doin'? Hillarycare would still be Hillarycare and not have gotten passed at all, we'd still have firebaggers because of that (Hillary wasn't progressive enough arrrrrgh!), energy and immigration still would have gotten blocked and we'd still be in the same damn mess we are right now.

No difference. Oh and the youth vote still wouldn't have turned out.

Not much I can add to that. Except that John McCain might very well be secretary of defense, and we might already have invaded Iran.

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